Supervised Pretrial Release Instead of Bail
Last week we wrote about a report released by the New Jersey Supreme Court's Joint Committee on Criminal Justice. As a result of the committee's report two bills have been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature S –946 and A –1910. The Senate bill has cleared the Judiciary Committee and has been sent to the Budget and Appropriation Committee for consideration. The Assembly bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. If these bills become law, our pretrial incarceration would be significantly changed. An accused inmate would not be required to languish in jail because of a lack of financial resources. Rather, supervised pretrial release would become the norm and defendants would get quicker trials. Of course, supervised pretrial release and quicker trials come at an increased cost to the state. While the supervised pretrial release will carry additional costs, those costs should be less than the cost of incarcerating somebody which can be in excess of $30,000 a year. Affording defendants speedy trials will require more judges, courts, and court staff. It would also be helpful if we had a faster and more efficient process for appointing judges to the bench. Even though there may be some challenges, the public seems to be in support of bail reform. Bail reform has also received some very positive press. On Wednesday, NJ.com published a favorable editorial detailing the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice's proposal. See, Editorial: ‘Freer, fairer and safer' – N.J. bail reform report delivers needed overhaul. The opinion details how the current bail system is inefficient at best or outright broken: In documenting the disparity of a system based not on whether a defendant poses risk to the community but on financial wherewithal, the panel has provided New Jersey with an opening to fundamentally change a system that's inefficient, expensive and unfair. Earlier today, the Press of Atlantic City published a favorable editorial supporting the proposed bail reform. See New Jersey's bail system / Reforms on target. The editorial pointed out how, The sticking point here is that speedier trials may require more judges, prosecutors and larger staffs at a time when there isn't much money available for expanding the public workforce. The tradeoff is that shorter pretrial waiting periods and fewer poor defendants in jails should mean savings for county governments. It costs about $30,000 a year to keep a defendant locked up. It is important to remember that the reforms proposed in the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice's report would require a constitutional amendment. Amending New Jersey's constitution is not a small undertaking. While we believe bail reform is certainly needed, it will in all likelihood take some time to be accomplished. We are optimistic about the early momentum bail form has in New Jersey. Stay tuned; we will continue to Update you on its progress. If you or a loved one needs help with a bail reduction or any other criminal matter in New Jersey, contact the criminal defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele today. We are here to defend the charges against you. Contact us now for your confidential and free initial consultation. You can also reach us by telephone (856) 546-1350.